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Official: Gateway Will Make 'Beautiful Difference' for Fayetteville

The Fayetteville City Council was to get its first look Monday night at a proposal tp create a new gateway into downtown, build a state veterans' park and tie together three major roadways. A public presentation is slated for Tuesday night.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A proposal before Fayetteville city leaders would create a new gateway into downtown, build a state veterans' park and tie together three major roadways.

The Gateway Corridor project would cost millions and not begin for years. City planners, though, have their eyes set on transforming the area surrounding the Airborne & Special Operations Museum into a gorgeous gateway into the city.

"It's going to be a beautiful difference. Amazing," said City Councilman Robert Hurst.

A public presentation of the plans will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, 100 Bragg Blvd.

Plans require replacing the Rowan Street bridge with a new one a little farther north. The renamed Veterans Memorial Bridge will go down to a roundabout, connecting Rowan Street to Murchison Road and Bragg Boulevard.

The roundabout will improve traffic flow, eliminate a cluster of intersections and allow the development of unused space, city officials said. Townhouses and a high-rise apartment complex would go up in part of Rowan Park.

"The opportunity to connect Haymont to downtown, (along) with more housing, would bring more people downtown and, hopefully, create more opportunities for businesses, shops and restaurants," said Kyle Sonnenberg, Fayetteville's assistant city manager.

The improvements would also mean changes for nearby businesses. Vick's Drive-In, an icon for 50 years at Rowan and Murchison, will likely have to move.

Tommy Skenteris, owner of Vick's Drive-In, said he understand the need to revitalize downtown, particularly Murchison Road. He said he is OK with making the move, as long as the city is willing to help fund it.

"It will be sad, but customers will still come," Skenteris said. "It will be the same service and quality of food, people serving it. That will never change."

Planners hope the state veterans' park, to the southeast of the roundabout, will rival that of parks in Washington, D.C. The park could be a regional attraction, because it would honor veterans from across North Carolina, not only those from Fayetteville, Hurst said.

"The veteran's park is not just a park of monuments. It's going to be a reflecting pool, gardens and a beautiful area people can ride their bikes," Hurst said.

City planners hope for a combination of state and federal money to fund the majority of the Gateway Corridor project.

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Christi Lowe, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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